Imagine music without experience. Standing alone. The thought is more harmful than it seems. Without love, joy, sorrow or any trickle of emotion, music doesn't exist. Good music, that is. But with his solo debut, R.L. need not worry. He's got a wealth of experience to share with the world.
R.L. ements is made up of the building blocks of R.L., the person. That's what makes his music so real. "I want this album to be used as therapy. I've gone through a lot during this short time in my life. Musically and vocally, I wasn't afraid to express myself," R.L. makes clear. And the album's heartfelt intro opens the doors into R.L.'s life.
"Being in a group, I only got to express one-third of myself, " R.L. says of his career in the music industry thus far. As the lead singer of Next, R.L. was a major factor in the success of the R&B trio. The group released two impressive albums on Arista Records, Rated Next and Welcome to Nextacy. Both albums were praised for their pleasing harmonies and their tasteful dose of indecency.
R.L. promises to give more than the usual Next-type subject matter. "There is nothing too risque here. I don't want to be botched in. I'm trying to Will Smith this thing out. I want to make feel good music for everybody, and I know I have a responsibility now."
A true artist, R.L. wrote the entire album himself, while managing to write songs for other artists in between. He penned the Jaheim hit "Just In Case, " as well as Luther Vandross' "current single." As someone suffering from his own heartache, he had a lot to write about. He explains, " I didn't have friends growing up. I've dealt with depression my whole life. I had problems at home; all I had was my music. My first love is music, and it will always be like that."
Growing up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, R.L. was exposed to a variety of musical styles that helped influence his sound. Artists like Prince, Michael Jackson and musical pioneers such as Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis encouraged R.L. to pursue music. "I was lucky enough to grow up on all these different sounds. In the Midwest, it's perfect. You hear all types of music, from the East Coast, to the West Coast, even down South."
The first single "Model Chick" bumps an un-tempo beat that supplies R.L. with the goods to show off his skills. It's a guaranteed club anthem, especially the remix featuring rap veteran Erick Sermon. But it's his inspirational music that sets him apart. On "That's What I'm Looking For, " a song that flips the old rock classic, Guns N'Roses "Sweet Child O'Mine", R.L. gets deep, addressing critical issues such as racism. Produced by Chucky Thompson, the song will earn R.L. his points with "Pop" music fans all over.
"I don't want to limit myself. I think people limit themselves and do what they're comfortable with. I feel like Next has a certain sound, but we were willing to take a chance with my solo album," the singer remarks. That is not to say that R.L. has completely abandoned the sexy music that Next has come to master. He seduces women on "Temptation Island, " a sultry ballad that'll take females to another place.
"This album is musical. I drew outside the lines, " R.L. suggests. With production by Soulshock & Karlin, Jermaine Dupri and others, R.L.ements is rich in sound and meaning. The album is therapy for anyone turning to music to escape the pain and sorrow that comes along with their, R.L. included.